A barred gate covers the entrace to Capilla del Cristo chapel in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Historic Churches in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Jan is the cultural center of Puerto Rico. Many of the island’s must-see sights are in Old San Juan; among them are these beautiful and beloved old churches. One is the second-oldest in the western hemisphere, another has two origin stories, both a tragic and triumphant version, and one is a truly excellent example of 16th-century Spanish Gothic architecture.

A painted lion statue in the Plaza de Leon. Photo © Micah Craig, licensed Creative Commons usage.

Ponce’s Plaza de las Delicias

Ponce’s Plaza de las Delicias is a bustling Spanish colonial plaza surrounded by many lovely 19th-century buildings. Filled with vendors of all kinds by day and music every evening, here’s what to see and do in this beautiful gathering spot.

A wall of religious icons in Iglesia de San Ignacio, Tunja, Colombia.

Tunja’s Historic Churches

Tunja is a city of churches, with over a dozen that date to colonial times. Everything you need to see here is located in its centro histórico, and make sure you arrive during church visiting hours, as the city does not have much else to offer. And most importantly, learn about the beautiful architecture and history of each one before you see it in person; you’ll appreciate your visit so much more for it.

The Imperial City Gate. Photo © Dana Filek-Gibson.

The Imperial City in Hue, Vietnam

From the early 19th century through the end of the Vietnamese monarchy in 1945, Hue’s Imperial City housed an impressive cache of temples, palaces, and administrative buildings. Of the 148 buildings in the walled Citadel complex, today 20 remain. Wide, opulent palaces and dimly lit temples pepper the now-overgrown grounds, boasting a mix of traditional Vietnamese architecture, vibrant lacquered woodwork, and ornate rooftops, not to mention 143 years’ worth of imperial history.

Plaza de Recreo Cristóbal Colón, Guayama's central plaza. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Sights in Guayama, Puerto Rico

Guayama features a lovely central plaza distinguished by rows of unique umbrella-shaped trees and examples of some truly beautiful architecture. Time your visit for one of the town’s yearly festivals and events or simply stop by any time to see these incredible architectural designs and tour the museums.

Antigua's lovely Parque Central. Photo © Al Argueta.

Sights in Antigua’s Parque Central

Antigua’s Parque Central is easily the most beautiful plaza in Guatemala and forms the hub of activity for shoe shiners, strolling lovers, tour groups, ice cream vendors, and foreign visitors. A great place for a stroll or people-watch, there are also plenty of sights to see, from historical cathedrals and incredible architecture to informative museums.

La Muralla, a nearly 400-year-old wall that surrounds Old San Juan. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Puerto Rico’s Iconic City Wall: La Muralla

The most enduring symbol of Puerto Rico is La Muralla. Nearly 400 years old, the city wall is composed of rock, rubble, and mortar that wraps around Old San Juan from the cruise-ship piers on San Juan Harbor to the capitol on the Atlantic Ocean. Its iconic sentry boxes serve as a symbol of the island’s Spanish heritage and resilience in an ever-changing world.

Street facade of the Castillo Serralles. Photo © Mtmelendez (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Explore Historic Castillo Serrallés in Puerto Rico

Set high on a hill overlooking Ponce is a startling reminder of the height of the city’s flourishing sugar industry, when its port was the busiest on the island. Castillo Serrallés, built in 1934, is an impressive feat of architecture housing an astonishing array of antiques. Visit for its history and its beautiful surrounding gardens, including a butterfly garden.

Porta Coéli Chapel and Museum of Religious Art. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Things to Do in San Germán, Puerto Rico

San Germán is the second-oldest colonial city in Puerto Rico, a lovely town to explore the streets and plazas while admiring the 18th- and 19th-century architecture and, thanks to an expanding restaurant scene, to treat yourself with a few remarkable meals. Here are the sights, events, and how to get there.

A golden figure of a jaguar in the Museo del Oro Precolombino.

Sights in San José’s Plaza de la Cultura

Musicians, jugglers, and marimba bands entertain the crowds in San José’s Plaza de la Cultura. Amidst the lively atmosphere, take the time to explore the stunning architecture of the Teatro Nacional and the world-class Museo del Oro Precolombino.